A testimony that will not stay under the rubble

Lina Balestrieri’s life, broken by the earthquake, leaves a bright example of dedication to families and to the weakest
Lina Balestrieri.jpg

The personal story of Lina Balestrieri, who died, at 59, in the earthquake that struck the town of Casamicciola in Ischia on 21 August, is simple but touching. Standing next to Santa Maria del Suffragio, with her Bible under her arm and just a few steps away from her husband, she was struck by a cornice that tumbled off the church. They were on the way to meet with the members of her community and prepare the Liturgy of the Weekly Word in the parish with them. We want to remember her for her witness as a Christian wife and mother, serving families and life.
As Ischia’s Bishop Lagnese recalled, Lina was a member of the diocesan pastoral council. She had welcomed children with different disabilities into her large family, and was a woman who continually devoted herself to working for the good of the island’s inhabitants.

A severe crisis in the early years of marriage led her to reject its Christian conception. Yet, precisely at that time, advised by a priest, Lina began to deepen her faith, trying to find the answer to her many doubts and perplexities in a deeper relationship with the Lord. This marked the beginning of her experience of community in the Neocatechumenal Way, which roused in her the great desire to have a large family also composed of orphaned children who, like herself, were suffering because they lost their mothers before they were three years old.

This led to the creation of the well-known center “La Lina.” She and her husband Antonio, generously open to life, had four children together. They also adopted, with great dedication, two handicapped children and welcomed them into their family. Her personal, genuine, and sincere conversion and her initial experience of married life, inspired her great dedication to young families, especially to those in difficulty. These moments in her life were also the source of her boundless generosity in the service of evangelization and catechesis in different parishes on the island. Her home, though small in size, was always crowded, especially on Sundays; and she made everyone feel at home.

“When we had finished praying the Rosary—her husband Antonio told us—, we left, with the Word of God in hand, ready to prepare a new celebration of the Word in the community’s house. Suddenly the earth shook, a wall of the church collapsed, and I dramatically experienced the words of the Gospel ‘One will be taken and the other left.’ The train of our lives is starting to roll again, loaded with gifts and destinations, with one less passenger but with reliable guidance from heaven.”


25 August 2017